Nurses with qualifications in both children’s and adult nursing have a key role in improving health services for young people, according to a an independent group of experts.
In its first annual report on the state of children’s health services, the Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Forum called for more progress in several key areas including the integration of children’s services.
“Recruiting the right people with the right values, for example nurses qualified in adult and paediatric health, will be key in improving service”
The group said more work was needed to ensure NHS staff have the right skills, training and attitude to work with young people and highlighted the need for nurses with a combination of child and adult nursing skills.
A key issue for young people with health problems is often the stressful move from children’s services, which are tailored to the needs of young patients, to adult care, which is not specifically set up to cater for the young.
“We think that recruiting the right people with the right values, for example nurses qualified in adult and paediatric health, will be key in improving services, helping transition and getting the right culture in place,” says the report.
Health Education England is due to appoint a national clinical lead for maternity, children and young people’s health to ensure a “strong focus on children’s needs” in training future NHS staff.
The forum’s report looks at the progress made since it made initial recommendations in 2012. While co-chair Christine Lenehan said there had been improvements in the last couple of years, she added “more needs to be done, and faster” especially when it came to public health, prevention and early intervention.
The forum stressed the importance of midwifery services in giving children the best start in life and preventing health problems in babies and children.
“There is a critical public health contribution that midwifery care can make to the future of health outcomes of babies where midwives are accessible for very early antenatal booking,” says the report.
“In partnership with health visitors, more public health pathways need to be developed which will have a significant impact on health outcomes for babies and children.”
The Royal College of Midwives welcomed the focus on early intervention, describing maternity care as “the earliest health intervention of them all”.
“Maternity should be integral to local early years strategies and, where necessary, services should be reorganised to secure a choice of high quality, safe maternity provision in all communities,” said RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick.
The Royal College of Nursing said too many children and young people were being “let down” by current health provision in the UK.
“Improved planning, more integrated working and sufficient investment in the right nursing staff and services will go a long way towards ensuring better health outcomes for future generations,” said RCN general secretary Peter Carter.
Health minister Dan Poulter said the government was working to tackle “unacceptable variation” in children’s health services and had already seen a 23% rise in the number of health visitors.
It was also investing in mental health support and staff training, he said.